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Fins win; Pats still get kicks
By wire services
Published January 2, 2006
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The Patriots are headed to the playoffs after their most entertaining loss of the season. The Dolphins are done after their sixth straight win.
Tom Brady watched most of it from the sideline.
Miami achieved its longest winning streak in 13 seasons by defeating New England, which rested many of its starters with an eye toward Saturday night's wild-card game against visiting Jacksonville.
Doug Flutie converted the league's first successful dropkick for an extra point in 64 years. Rookie quarterback Matt Cassel, who threw 33 passes in four years as a backup at USC, threw two touchdowns. And rookie receiver Bam Childress, who made his first pro catch, gave up a touchdown catch while playing cornerback.
"We played guys to get them experience, get them out there to play," coach Bill Belichick said, "give them a chance so they will be better prepared to play if they are called upon."
Running back Corey Dillon, who was healthy, and linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who had a left calf injury, were inactive. Other starters sat out all or most of the game. Brady was 3-of-8 for 37 yards and didn't play after the first quarter.
Miami's Olindo Mare kicked four field goals, Gus Frerotte threw a 15-yard touchdown to Marty Booker, Ricky Williams scored on a 3-yard run and Cassel was sacked for a safety.
Flutie, 43, made the league's first successful dropkick since Ray McLean for the Chicago Bears on Dec. 21, 1941. It followed Cassel's first pro touchdown, a 6-yarder to Tim Dwight that made it 25-19 with 6:10 left.
"I just thanked (Belichick) for the opportunity," said Flutie, who had been dropped to third-string quarterback. He thought he had "probably an 80 percent chance (of making the kick). It was fun."
After Mare's 42-yard field goal made it 28-20 with 1:55 left, Cassel cut the lead to 28-26 on a 9-yard pass to Benjamin Watson with no time left. But Cassel's pass for a two-point conversion fell incomplete.